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10 Essentials for Mobile Commerce – Part 3

Finally we publish the 3rd part of our series „10 essentials for mobile commerce“. The last part focuses on the importance of usability and user experience as well as speed and security.

7. Usability is even more important on smaller screens

The usability of your online shop has a huge impact on the success of your business strategy. The smaller screens of smartphones and tablets turn the importance of usability friendly design even higher. There are a few basic principals which should be considered: Use a consistent design throughout the app. Make buttons big enough for touchscreens and use icons or images to make it more clear. Facilitate the navigation through different categories with a “Back”-button. Use intuitive gestures for multitouch-devices such as swiping to let customers navigate through articles. Make use of the accelerometer to show bigger images of articles in the landscape view. There are surely many more ways to optimize the usability of smartphone apps – keep always in your mind, that usability is crucial!

8. Be as secure as you could be

There is a very recent study of Forrester, which says, amongst other things, that many people have problems with entering their sensitive data in the tiny smartphone text boxes. For retailers this has two implications. First of all, be as secure as you could be in your app. Offer the possibility to pay via PayPal or other payment services without entering all the sensitive data. Use SSL or other security methods and communicate this fact to your customer.  Show your credibility by implementing the Trusted Shops seal in your app. Second implication is, that you have to practice educational work that mobile commerce isn’t at all unsecure and that all data lays on secure servers and so on. Explain your customer why she or he hasn’t to be afraid of purchasing your products on the smartphone and on the tablet.

9. Create a seamless user experience

Seamless user experience – what an expression. Sounds very complicated, but is in fact very banal. Create corporate identity guidelines which are consistent over all touchpoints with your customer. Print, ads, mobile, online shop, brick and mortar store and all other touchpoints with your customer should reflect the brand. Especially the recognition value of the mobile and the online shop has to be very high. Point 3 (in part 1 of our series) also counts onto the account of a seamless user experience. If there are cuts between different touchpoints it’s not seamless. To account for the fact that many people inform mobile and purchase articles in the online shop, you have to implement a basket which is persistent on all devices. Or, if this is too expensive/complicated, you may implement a possibility to email the basket and/or to create a link to the basket with all the products in it. This way you’ll facilitate your customer the change of the touchpoint and thus increase the possibility that this customer is buying. And remember, it doesn’t matter which touchpoint does which part during the customer journey, important is only that she or he completes the order!

10. Speed is the key to conversion

When we visit an online shop we expect instant loading of the sites, if the different sites are not loading as expected, we leave the website and the turnover for the retailer is gone. That’s exactly the same with mobile apps. And there is also a tiny little point why native apps are better than mobile optimized templates. Native apps are faster and exploit the hardware of the smartphone in an optimal way. So keep in mind that speed is the key to conversion.

1 of 3 Germans uses the smartphone for shopping

10 Essentials for Mobile Commerce – Part 2

Welcome to the second part of our blog series about Mobile Commerce Essentials. In this part you’ll learn how important it is to use the particular advantages of a smartphone, which role the promotion plays for the app itself and why the mobile checkout is the backbone of mobile commerce.

Enjoy the read and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

4. Use the advantages of a smartphone1 of 3 Germans uses the smartphone for shopping

The second important variable in creating a value added is to make use of the specific advantages of a smartphone. You can implement a location based service, which recognizes when a customer is approaching your local store and send this specific customer a push notification with a special, time limited deal in the store. You can just implement a store finder which make use of the geolocation features of the smartphone. You can even connect both of the two by sending a push notification with a special deal and navigate the customer to the next local store. You could make use of the camera of a smartphone to make barcode and QR Code scanning possible. Integrate QR Codes into your print ads at high volume traffic places like central stations and let customer scan the code to head directly to the product. Offer special mobile coupons which a customer can redeem by visiting your brick and mortar store. Another possibility for the use of the advantages of a smartphone is the use of augmented reality. Schössmetall, an OXID customer, provides in its mobile app a feature, which lets the customer take a picture of a door and then mount virtual a new door handle from the product range of Schössmetall (you can test this feature by visiting the App Store and download the app here). There are many ways to explore the advantages of smartphones, an by using them you create instantly value added to your customer.

5. Bring your mobile activities to light

Okay, the App Store and the Play Store are great distribution channels for your apps. You can reach millions of users through it. Big brands like adidas, Nike or Hugo Boss would have no problem to spread the app on a huge amount of devices. But most of the retailers haven’t got such a strong brand. They need to make the mobile app known by advertising at other touchpoints such as the online shop and their retail stores. There are so many ideas how to reach a substantial amount of downloads: give hints on your cash slips, your invoices, your print ads, your flyers, your business cards, virtually everywhere you get in contact with potential customers, integrate a prominent link directly to the App Store in your online shop and so on and so forth. Let your customer know about your amazing applications in the different marketplaces.

6. Checkout is the mobile backbone

The checkout is known as a substantial and critical part in every online shop. There are complete research studies just about this one topic, recently the Smashing Magazine published the findings of its own research in their blog. This fact is also valid for your mobile app. It’s even more substantial and more critical. Why? Because of the smaller screen size. The established 5-step-checkout-process from online shops should better be a 3-step-process in your mobile app. Make it as easy as you can imagine for your customer to buy your products at the mobile touchpoint. Make the whole process transparent and let customers switch back and forth in the different steps. Implement little helpers such as an address autocomplete service. Remember, the checkout is the mobile backbone!

Stay tuned for the next part of the series.

10 Essentials for Mobile Commerce

2012 is the year of mobile commerce, figures of PayPal and Google prove, that you as a retailer, will lose customers to your competitors if you’ll not provide your online shop on smartphones.

In the next weeks I will publish a series of essential facts and hints that you’ll have to take in account for your mobile commerce strategy.

Today we start with points 1, 2 and 3.

1. Don’t treat the touchpoint mobile isolated

The most common mistake of many retailer is, that they treat the touchpoint mobile isolated, like a channel. You cannot decide whether or not developing a mobile commerce strategy on the fact that the mobile touchpoint itself will not generate enough turnover to get the right ROI. The touchpoint mobile is not isolated, it is the connection, the bridge between the offline world with its brick and mortar stores and the online world with the online flagship shops. There is a known recent study from search giant Google which says that 37% of customers search for information via the mobile touchpoint before they buy online. Even more customers (47%) search for information mobile before they buy in a retail store.
These numbers underscore the relevance of the mobile touchpoint even today. Nobody knows were the market will be in the nearest future, but all forecasts and projections pinpoint to a rosy future. The touchpoint mobile will play a major role in future commerce strategies of multi-touchpoint retailer.

2. Create a value added for your customer

Don’t start your mobile activities without knowing the goal of these activities. Create a strategy to integrate the mobile touchpoint in your commerce strategy. The overall goal should be to create a value added for your customer. Why should they download an app or visit your mobile optimized online shop? Now you’re probably asking yourself how to do this?! Read on and you’ll hopefully know more.

3. Connect the different touchpoints

In order to create a value added you have to connect the different touchpoints. To manifest its strength, mobile and all the other touchpoints have to be interconnected in various ways: Persistent baskets over different devices. Single-sign-on over all devices and touchpoints. Possibility for the customer to return online or mobile purchased products in a brick and mortar store. One central stock for all touchpoints. Following this, a connected POS cash register system. And so on and so on. The most difficult task in connecting the touchpoints is, to align all IT processes. All systems have to be intermeshed seamlessly and have to communicate with each other. At the same time the customer must not recognize these hilarious complex backend-processes, for them it have to be simple to do the things they want to do, no matter at which touchpoint and what time!

I hope you found it helpful for your business and I would appreciate it if you spread the word over the social media channels.

Stay tuned for the next part of the series!